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Re: teaching beginners
Posted by nloftofan1
5/9/2014  8:02:00 AM
You mention the difficulty beginners have with rotations. This may have to do with concentrating on feet (you know that you can't do it all with your feet, but beginners don't; they have to get past the "Which foot do I move next and where do I put it?" stage).

One of our local instructors frequently tells beginners (humorously) that "Everything in dance is simple until you start to turn." And he's right. The question is: Why?

If the GPS in your car says "Drive two-tenths of a mile and turn left," you do it--no problem. But if the dance instructor says "... turn left," half the class turns right--or freezes. I asked a friend who is a psychiatrist why so many beginning dancers have this kind of mental block, and he had some general ideas (lots of things to think of at once). Do any of you reading this have some ideas?
Re: teaching beginners
Posted by Voco
5/10/2014  12:19:00 AM

Hi nloftofan1,

RE: But if the dance instructor says:... turn left," half the class turns right--or freezes. I asked a friend who is a psychiatrist

When you give instruction for rotating to beginners you have to explain that you mean which shoulder is going to move back. A right rotation in dance is totally different than turning with a car to the right. You dont need a psychiatrist in my humble opinion.
Re: teaching beginners
Posted by nloftofan1
5/11/2014  11:01:00 AM
My observation is that--even after the dance instructor tries to explain how to turn left or right (outside of dancing, most people have NO problem knowing how: walking, driving, riding a bicycle, whatever), beginning dancers frequently do it wrong. I asked my psychiatrist friend if he had any idea why they have this difficulty.

Dance instructors often say that dancing is simply walking to music. (True, you usually don't have another person in front of you, moving backward when you move forward and vice versa. Is this a contributing factor?) Most people have no trouble knowing when they are turning right or left when they walk, so why do they have trouble when they dance?
Re: teaching beginners
Posted by nloftofan1
5/12/2014  9:28:00 AM
The mystery (to me, anyway) is why people have this problem. Yes, turning right (or left) when dancing involves a different set of actions than turning when driving a car (or walking, or riding a bicycle, or plotting a route to Grandma's house). But in all those other cases people don't have trouble understanding WHICH WAY to turn. So why do so many beginning dancers turn right when the dance instructor says "Turn left," and have no idea they've turned the wrong way?

That's why I asked a psychiatrist.
Re: teaching beginners
Posted by Voco
5/13/2014  1:19:00 AM
Hi nloftofan1,

RE: the mystery of understanding the direction of turning

So what did the shrink say?

I still say that if you relate the turning to shoulder movements, they will follow it 99%.

Many years ago, I observed a very experienced dance teacher, now retired, used that method when explaining the Natural and Reverse Turns. All students in the group class followed his instructions correctly.
Re: teaching beginners
Posted by O.K.
6/2/2014  3:24:00 AM
nioftofan 1. Students not able to turn in the right direction. With a class of complete beginners I think it is not wise to teach in the same evening the Waltz where we step forward right foot and turn to the right for a Natural Turn. Then later teach the Cha Cha where we step with the right foot and turn to our left for a Spot Turn. What I do recommend is a succession of steps consisting of, starting on the right side of the hall. Step left foot and swivel to the left 1/4 of a turn. Then step right and swivel a 1/4 turn to the right and keep going until you run out of room. If you think they can do it. Do two 1/4 turns followed by two 1/8 of a turn.
Re: teaching beginners
Posted by terence2
5/10/2014  4:24:00 AM

Hi Phil...pleased things went well for you.

I would suggest however, that, Cuban motion would be low down on priorities for beginners .

Developing partnerwork, like transitions, would be ( and is ) high on my list for beginners, no matter the dance being taught.

I recently had a student from Germany, danced salsa for 3yrs, and had got hung up on CM, and yet, had some balance problems plus Frame and Poise issues ( Never seems to be addressed in W/shops ! ? ) .Now, obviously, she needed the CM problem resolved long before the time danced, which begs the question..

WHEN is the right time ?..I always judge this on the abilities of the student(s), and probably discuss its relevance early on, with the caveat, give it time to develop .
Re: teaching beginners
Posted by phil.samways
5/10/2014  4:56:00 AM
Terence.. I agree with what you've said. And also loftofan - you're so right about turning actions.
Partnering is very important i agree. I think we all realise this more and more as we improve. I will be covering that more in the coming weeks.
The cah-cha thing was interesting. They wanted to do cha-cha and they love it. The walking exercise hadn't been planned - it started during the coffee break when some students came back early and i was just giving them the exercise while waiting for the others. Then, of course, they all wanted to join in! But the cha-cha action is something i refer to when revising the progressive chasse. And the lock steps and chasse in slow waltz (some of them have already covered whisk and chasse) as in "here's that cha-cha-cha again" and it helps them feel on home ground.
One thing i've found really useful. The 40 bpm quickstep music for them to dance to. It gave them great confidence. The alma cogan song "20 tiny fingers" at 40bpm is great for beginners.
Please keep offering comments and suggestions. They're very helpful
Re: teaching beginners
Posted by terence2
5/13/2014  1:33:00 AM

Hi again Phil. seems things are working out pretty good.

And yes, Cha always sells, as does Swing/Jive .

Heres something to try.... preceeding L and R turns,, a simple Bpx step. This gets both man and lady used to stepping in directions that, they may not be used to, with weight changes.

As you probably know,(L) Rev. turns invariably are easier to master than Natural (R).

The right turning action is counter intuitive to the mind, as its conditioned to follow the same directions as " travel " around the room, that is, counter clockwise.
Re: teaching beginners
Posted by O.K.
9/1/2014  11:00:00 PM
We had a German teacher a while back who wrote. In the Quickstep he never uses the word quick. He said a beginner will invariably snatch that step. So his basic Quickstep was starting on the RF. Slow-- SlowSlow Slow- Slow- SlowSlow and so on. It does work nicely for a beginner.
To continue. I was told many years ago that to teach think of the first part as the first rung of a ladder. Do it over several times then teach the second rung over and over. Then join 1 and 2 together and repeat several times . Do the same with section 3 and so on.

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